Reception tests dropped as measure

test paper Image copyright Thinkstock Image caption The tests for four and five-year-olds had been criticised by teachers' union leaders as unnecessary

Baseline tests for reception pupils in England are not reliable enough to measure progress this year, says a study for the Department for Education.

The education department, which is introducing the tests, says it would be "unfair" to use them as a measure.

There are three different testing systems that schools can use - but the study says the results cannot be properly compared.

A head teachers' union said: "It is hard to avoid saying 'we told you so'."

Tests for pupils at the beginning of school, known as "baseline tests", were intended as a starting point against which to measure progress through primary school.

But they have faced opposition from teachers' union leaders who criticised them as introducing an unnecessary set of tests for young children.

The Department for Education has now backed away from using the tests for measuring progress - after publishing a study that it had commissioned looking at the comparability of the three testing systems.

"That study has shown that the assessments are not sufficiently comparable to provide a fair starting point from which to measure pupil progress," says a statement from the Department for Education.

"In light of that, we will not be using this year's results as the baseline for progress measures. This would be inappropriate and unfair to schools."

The National Association of Head Teachers said the government had "outsmarted itself by choosing multiple providers of these assessments - none of which compare to each other".

"They cannot provide a measure of progress that can be compared between schools.

"This outcome is symptomatic of the general chaos on assessment in the primary phase, with poor planning and a lack of consultation with the people who know what will actually work."

The education department says it is still committed to the principle of baseline testing and "will continue to look at the best way to assess pupils in the early years".

As such, baseline tests will remain optional for next year, but will not be used for "accountability purposes".

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